Rome is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. Its magnificent monuments and architecture, its beautiful neighbourhoods and its ‘dolce vita’ lifestyle draw millions of tourists to the Eternal City every year. Some of the city’s major attractions and squares, such as the Vatican, the Colosseum or the Spanish Steps, can be extremely crowded. Do not get me wrong: these highlights are definitely worth a wait. But after spending some moments at the city’s highlights, you might want to move away from the masses and the traffic.
You might want to have a good Italian lunch on a quiet piazza. To enjoy the Mediterranean sun in one of Rome’s beautiful parks. Or to wonder at some of the city’s most astonishing panorama’s. But where to go? This article reveals some beautiful places to spend a quiet moment in the bustling city. So that you can combine your visit to the world-famous highlights with an off-the-beaten-track experience.
The Aventine Hill
Close to the center, serene and a beautiful place to visit on a sunny afternoon is the Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills on which Rome has been built. Just south of the Circus Maximus you can walk up the hill by taking the V. Valle Murcia, which shortly after becomes Via di Santa Sabina. After fifteen minutes you will find on your right hand side the entrance to a little park. Originally called the Parco Savello, this park is commonly known as the Giardini degli Aranci, or ‘Orange Gardens’. The tree-lined paths lead you to a beautiful view over the center of Rome and the Tiber river. In the summer, the park hosts theatre and musical performances. When walking further up the hill you will come across the Santa Sabina church, a fifth-century church which has essentially been unchanged from its original layout and interior. Following the Via Santa Sabina will make you end up at the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. On the right hand side of this square is the Priory of the Knights of Malta, a military order. Though the Priory is not open to the public, the ornate keyhole of the gate will offer an impressive and surprising view on the Vatican and the cupola of Saint Peter’s Basilica, which will leave only few uncharmed.
Trastevere In the evening, the neighbourhood of Trastevere – just across the Tiber river – is one of the most popular places to go for both tourists and Romans. But the area is also a great place to visit at daytime, before the crowds arrive. Stroll through the narrow streets, packed with little bars, restaurants and shops, until you arrive at the neighbourhood’s main square, Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, named after one of Rome’s most splendid churches, located in the square’s northwest corner. Then go for lunch at one of the typical Roman restaurants, such as Casetta de’ Trastevere on the small Piazza de’ Renzi, for great Roman dishes. For a good walk after lunch, follow the Vicolo del Cedro which will lead you to the foot of the Gianicolo Hill. Follow the Via Garibaldi further up until you reach the large statue of this 19th century father of Italian unification on the Piazzale Garibaldi. Here you will be able to enjoy a magnificent panorama over the roofs of Rome.
Rome is more than the Colosseum. And as the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. So when in Rome, do not forget to move away from the crowds and discover the beauty of Rome in its narrow streets, little piazza’s and small, local restaurants. Add a touch of Roman life to your Roman holidays!